I saw Ken Griffey, Jr. trending this morning and I immediately got nervous. Whew! False alarm. He’s ok. The reason for him trending? Well, today is the day that the 2016 Major League Baseball Hall of Fame class is announced. Today is the next first step in Griffey, Jr journeying to taking his rightful place in Cooperstown. Let all the fans across the globe rejoice!
Long before people associated #24 with Jeff Gordon and Kobe Bryant. Long before Dale Earnhardt, Jr would step into the spotlight as Junior, Ken Griffey, Jr. aka JUNIOR was the #24 all athletes wanted to be like. His athletic talent was outerworldly. His knowledge of the game was envious. His swagger, long before the term was ever coined, superceded everyone else’s on the diamond. Junior is easily one of the most revolutionary athletes to not only pick up a baseball bat but to play sports, period.
I was not sure what to expect when I saw CC Sabathia’s name trending earlier today as he is not in the news often.
The New York Yankees are in the playoffs for the first time since 2012. Heading into the postseason, they will be without one of their veteran players.
Sabathia is checking himself into rehab to confront his alcohol addiction. Can we pause for a minute and really think about the magnitude of Sabathia’s choice? If you think I am looking at this from the stand point of what this means from the Yankees, then you have missed the point already. I need you to look at it from the stand point of here is a player who is on the roster of the most storied franchise in Major League Baseball history. While not expected to win the World Series this year, it is October and anything can happen. The Yankees have been in a slump for a few years and have rightfully so returned to take their familiar seat at the playoff roundtable. Veterans such as Sabathia will be called upon to mentor and guide their younger counterparts through the ups and downs of postseason life.
I really wish I had appreciated Mariano Rivera more while he was playing. Let me clarify my statement. I have always been a big fan of Rivera but I am not a fan on the New York Yankees. I do not really have anything against the organization. I just always enjoy seeing them lose :-}. So it was hard to cheer for Rivera at times because of who he played for.
Tonight was the end of an era. The last player to ever wear the #42 in Major League Baseball “exited” off the mound. How fitting that a man who has exemplified nothing but class, humility and dignity gets to be the last representative of such a prestigious number. You know you have something special when your rival has a special ceremony for you in your last game at their field, which is exactly what the Boston Red Sox did on September 16.
I was shocked that none of the major networks carried tonight’s game. In a time when all that seems to be highlighted in sports are liars, cheaters, law breakers, whiners, performance enhancement users, drunk drivers and adulterers, you would think MLB would be chomping at the bits to ensure that such a momentous occasion would be broadcasted nationally. Thankfully because of social media sites such as Twitter, many of us did not have to wait long to see Rivera’s last pitch. And what a moment that was. Rivera entered the game in the 8th inning and retired all four players he faced. And then it was time. If you are not familiar with the routine in baseball, the manager always comes to the mound to relieve the pitcher. Well, Rivera is too special to just do things the normal way. Instead of the Yankees manager, Joe Giradi, relieving him, long time teammates Andy Pettitte, who will also retire at the end of the season, and Derek Jeter received that honor. Rivera whom smiled as the two approached the mound was immediately overcome by emotion as he hugged Pettitte. So was I. Rivera, who received a standing ovation that was over four minutes long, took it all in as he hugged teammates, coaches and Yankees personnel before he took the field again for one last curtain call at Yankee Stadium.
In case you missed it, Rivera’s number read like this…19 MLB seasons(all with the Yankees), 652 career saves(most in MLB history), 2.21 career ERA(lowest in MLB history with a minimum of 1,000 pitches), 0.70 ERA in postseason(best ever in MLB history) 42 career postseason saves(24 more than any other pitcher), saved games for six Cy Young winners(tied for most all time).
On Sunday, September 29, the Yankees will play their last game of the season, officially ending the Rivera era. There are rumblings that he may play center field for at least one inning during the series in Houston. Why not? He has earned it!!!